These are the most common devices used in orthodontics. They are used when precision is important.
A person can eat normally with fixed appliances, but some foods and drinks need to be avoided, such as carbonated drinks, hard candy, gum, and other sticky foods.
People who participate in contact sports need to tell their orthodontist, as they may need special gum shields.
Examples of fixed orthodontic appliances include:
These consist of brackets, wires, and bands. Bands are fixed firmly around the teeth and serve as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are usually connected to the front of the teeth.
Wires in the shape of an arch pass through the brackets and are fixed to the bands. As the arch wire is tightened, tension is applied to the teeth. Over time, this moves them into proper position.
Follow-up involves monthly visits to adjust or tighten the braces. Treatment may last from several months to a number of years.
Both clear and colored braces are available.
Removable orthodontic appliances
These may be used to treat minor problems, such as preventing thumb sucking or correcting slightly crooked teeth.
The appliance should only be taken out when cleaning, eating, or flossing. Sometimes, the orthodontist may advice the patient to remove them during certain activities, such as playing a wind instrument or cycling.
Examples of removable appliances include:
Aligners: This alternative to braces may be useful for adults. They are virtually unnoticeable by other people, and they can be removed to brush the teeth, floss, or eat. An aligner is used for 2 to 3 weeks, then changed for a tigher one.
Orthodontist versus dentist
Your dentist will usually be able to recommend an orthodontist, or they may be able to do this work themselves. A small number of dentists are also trained and qualified as an orthodontist. According to the AAO, only 6 percent of dentists are also orthodondists.
A dentist specializes in the broader area of oral health, including preventing infections, and dealing with the teeth, jaw, nerves, and other aspects.
An orthodontist deals specifically with the bite and straightness of teeth. You should check that your chosen professional is qualified to undertake orthodontal treatment before going ahead.